TIFF 2012 Preview: Twitch Raises the Curtain With Our 17 Top Picks

Ryland Aldrich, Festivals Editor

Hooray! At last, the Toronto International Film Festival begins today! We've already got a number of reviews in the system, ready to roll out the moment the films hit the screen. And we have scores more reviews just waiting to be written. You've seen our 12 for '12 TIFF previews, and now we've got a few last words of preview on some of the films our team is most excited to see. Here are the previews again, in case you missed them, followed by a bit about the team, then on to the picks!

TIFF 12 for '12 Part One: The Big Launches
TIFF 12 for '12 Part Two: The Fantastic Side of Things
TIFF 12 for '12 Part Three: Pacific Rim Offerings
TIFF 12 for '12 Part Four: Big Screen Reality
TIFF 12 for '12 Part Five: The Films That Could
TIFF 12 for '12 Part Six: The Best From Other Fests

The team: Twitch Commander-in-Chief Todd Brown will be holding court wherever frosty brews are available in between frantic screening dashing and review writing. You can follow him at @TwitchFilmTodd. Kurt Halfyard, an admitted TIFF-aholic, will be attending his 14th fest (over half of them writing for Twitch). He's looking forward to the weird and the wonderful, the eclectic and the emotional films that he loves to get hopelessly lost in. Follow him at @triflic. Jason Gorber has been writing about TIFF for 16 years (most reviews can be found at filmfest.ca) but this is his first year writing for Twitch. He's already seen more TIFF 2012 films at press screenings than most people will see during the fest. Follow Jason at @flmfest_ca. Ryland Aldrich will be attending his second TIFF and trying to help direct the rapid flow of reviews heading to our Twitch readers throughout the fest. You can read his TIFF previews above and follow him at @RylandAldrich. And of course, you can follow all the happenings on our main feed @TwitchFilm. Here are some of the films we're most looking forward to:


BERBERIAN SOUND STUDIO
If there's a movie made by a film geek for the pleasure of other film geeks at the festival this year, this is that film. A love letter to classic giallo and the artisans who created it, this looks to be fascinating, atmospheric stuff. -Todd

As someone who considers Francis Ford Coppola's The Conversation to be superior to The Godfather or even Apocalypse Now, it will come as no surprise to see Berberian Sound Studio as one of their most anticipated films at the festival this year. A British sound engineer doing all the foley, voice dub and other sound design work on a trashy Italian Giallo is slowly driven insane by his working environment. Egos are to be crushed and stabbed as surely as the many watermelons, all in the name of stirring the imagination in ways that visual simply cannot achieve. While we do not get to see the actual film being made, we are forced to LISTEN to achieve any insights. I approve of this kind of filmmaking. When the program notes use the phrase "Kafka-esque", I say, "Bring it." -Kurt

LOOPER
A movie made by a film geek for the pleasure of everyone, Rian Johnson's Looper sets out to prove that you can entertain the masses without filing away your brain. Never mind the festival, this is one of the most anticipated titles of the year, period. -Todd

ARGO
Leave it to Ben Affleck to bring to the big screen this insane story of Hostages, the CIA, a bunch of Canadians and a fake film shot in Iran. I'm one of those that actually quite liked The Town, and I kinda love the way B-fleck has reinvented himself post J-Lo/post K-Smith. I have a feeling the flick with be a big, silly mess, but I'm still very much looking forward to it. This, alas, is what counts as Canadian pride. -Jason


LEVIATHAN
Both of my grandfathers were Atlantic fisherman, and I have very fond memories of all-day sea-adventures on their wondrously large vessels while they plied their trade. So this observational documentary filmed off of New England coast promises to be a surreal audio-visual experience of the truest kind. Cameras were fixed to the nets and tossed around by the fisherman and plunge into the deep as they work. I desire to be utterly lost in this film, but not seasick! -Kurt

THE ABCS OF DEATH
I must confess that my interest in this one goes slightly beyond the normal as I had some marginal involvement in putting the project together. But despite having brought a handful of the involved directors to the table, I've seen very little from it and the collection of talent is just far too intriguing to pass up. -Todd

CLOUD ATLAS
I'm racing to finish up David Mitchell's thrilling but challenging novel before Friday's first screening of the Wachowski/Tykwer adaptation. With a wildly multi-threaded narrative, I think I speak for all who have read the book when I ask, how the hell are they going to pull this off? - Ryland

ROOM 237
I'm a Kubrick nut, so this look at The Shining and the nutbars that find hermeneutic and exegetic nuggets by delving way, way too deep into the film has me practically giddy with anticipation. I know that the film has already played to audiences elsewhere, but I've studiously avoided all reviews, and go in blindly hoping this will live up to the premise (in a way that, say, equally anticipated Berberian Sound Studio didn't rock my world the way I wanted it to). -Jason


CALL GIRL
Nobody does character driven thrillers better than the Scandinavians these days and this based on a true story Swedish effort involves many of the technical crew - including the DP - from Let The Right One In. That's a good enough reason for me. -Todd

PIETA
Every TIFF you stumble into a film you've not heard of, simply because it's of a suitable length nestled between two other flicks you're hoping to catch, with this middle piece conveniently located at the same venue. Back in 2000, I had one of those sublime moments, where I saw the shattering picture The Isle without having even read the description. Without any hype or prejudice, the film completely floored me, showing me images I never even imagined I'd witness on screen. Over the years, seeking out anything by director Kim Ki-Duk (even his much-maligned "documentary" Arirang) is the first thing I do when I pickup the programme book. This year sees a return to formal narrative, and the story is apparently about a loan shark or something. Frankly, I barely skimmed the summary. I know I'm seeing the damn thing, why bother spoiling it ahead of time. Ki-Duk joins a very select list (Coens, Von Trier) of living directors that are simply no brainers - even if I don't like the film in total, I'll find something compelling or unique about the work that I won't find in any other director. In short, if the guy makes a film, and it's playing TIFF, I'll see it, period. -Jason

STORM SURFERS 3D
The promise of a big action sports movie with stellar 3D has yet to be realized. 3D gets a bad rap because of the tendency to take you out the of the story. But a 3D action sports doc can forgo that worry the way PINA did with a dance doc. If the 3D is solid, this will be one of the best actions sports docus ever. -Ryland

COME OUT AND PLAY
It has always baffled me that Narciso Ibáñez Serrador's sun-drenched horror Who Can Kill A Child? was never canonized into one of the great entries in the genre. The film is unsettling, subversive, provocative and features the most visceral scene involving pregnancy on screen until À l'intérieur came along. This Mexican remake of the film looks to be a faithful update of the film, but the director and the production has been shrouded in enough mystery to raise my curiosity to the boiling point. At the very least (and I do not expect this to be the case at all!) the film should serve to remind its audience of the 1976 original. -Kurt

AMOUR
Michael Haneke is perhaps the closest living filmmaker we have to to the old master himself, Stanley Kubrick. That Haneke works at an alarmingly quick pace and turns out masterpiece after masterpiece is a miracle unto himself. Amour sees the filmmaker take a shot at a deeply emotional story of a couple who come face to face with significant change in their life-long relationship as she has a debilitating stroke and he assumes a care-giver role as they wait out the inevitable. There is something comforting to me about Haneke tearing away the veneer of our incredible ability to deny that death comes to us all. Amour goes one further in suggesting that that for most of us, it will also not be pretty. -Kurt

Haneke is often hit-or-miss with me, and it's rare that I don't downright despise what goes on to win the Palme d'Or at Cannes. Still, I adored White Ribbon, and can't help but think this is likely to be a highlight of the fest for me this year. At the least, I'm doing well to set myself up for disappointment, which, based on many of his films, is a sentiment that I think Haneke would wish to foster. - Jason

A LIAR'S AUTOBIOGRAPHY
I adore people who play with their own myth making and this inevitably surreal take on the history of the famous Python will hopefully be extremely entertaining. Too often in the midst of a fest full of Holocaust docs, dreary character pieces and Asian rape-fantasies, one can lose sense of the lighter side of life. With this farcical, animated take on a well-trodden tale, I'm hoping that I'll hear stories I haven't heard a thousand times before and be genuinely thrilled by a product made with the name Monty Python on it for the first time since Life of Brian. -Jason

FRANCES HA
News out of Telluride is that Noah Baunmbach's latest is his most mature and most entertaining film to date. That's great news after a slightly disappointing GREENBERG. Baumbach is one of the most promising American filmmakers and I'm thrilled to see what his best work looks like.-Ryland

HOW TO MAKE MONEY SELLING DRUGS
I don't make enough money and I need some tips. Also, this edgy doc has collected as astounding array of guests on all sides of the issue of drug control for what promises to be an insightful and controversial look at the so called War On Drugs and its results. -Todd

BYZANTIUM
It has been two decades since the Anne Rice mania culminated with the cinematic version of Interview with A Vampire. And, yes, we are again currently drowning in vampire-themed popular culture. But Neil Jordan is no common filmmaker and his return to the gothic subject with Saoirse Ronan and Gemma Arterton running the show is as irresistible as the publicity stills featuring insects, neon, and lots of blood. -Kurt

THE MASTER
Ok, another no-brainer, but Paul Thomas Anderson's flick brings with it for me a certain additional frisson, namely, that Joaquin Phoenix is my personal TIFF nemesis. Still, I'm not one to begrudge a PTA film and I do think that almost anything that Phillip Seymour Hoffman does is a form of genius. What takes it over the top is that the thing will be presented in 70mm. I'm hoping to skip the presser to see it at the Princess of Wales theatre, a bigger venue to be sure, but more deliciously, it's also a venue that will be using the projection equipment rescued from the Cinesphere, that golf-ball, geodesic thingy on our waterfront that was home to the world's first IMAX theatre. - Jason

Let us know what you are most excited for and see you at the fest!

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